Institute of Neuroscience

Staff Profile

Professor Miles Witham

Professor of Trials for Older People


I am an academic geriatrician with a particular focus on clinical trials for older people. Older people are underrepresented in clinical trials, and many clinical trials are not designed in a way that either facilitates participation for older people, or that provides outcomes relevant to older people, policymakers or health and social care professionals caring for older people.

My work as Professor of Trials for Older People will address this problem in three ways:

  1. by designing and running trials for older people across a range of disease states, seeking to improve physical function and quality of life in older people, testing interventions that target multiple pathologies of ageing, particularly cardiovascular disease and sarcopenia.
  2. by building capacity to conduct trials for older people in the UK and globally. Developing cohorts of older people ready and willing to engage in trials, developing sites and local investigators who can support recruitment and retention, and developing the next generation of trialists from across the multidisciplinary team.
  3. by researching how to do trials better – trials methodology research is essential if we are to design faster, more cost-effective, better quality trials for older people

In all of these activities, I seek to ensure that patients, carers and the public are at the centre of our activities, whether that be in trial design, trial management, or disseminating results.

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My key areas of research activity at Newcastle are:

- Designing and conducting randomised controlled trials for older people, particularly focussing on improving physical function and quality of life for older people. My activity encompasses several disease areas, but has a central focus on sarcopenia (the age-related loss of muscle mass that affects function for many older people)

- Building capacity across the UK and beyond to recruit older people to clinical trials. Essential activity in ensuring that healthcare evidence is appropriate to inform healthcare for older people - the main customers for care.

- Researching how to do trials better, quicker and more cost-effectively for older people. Research on how to do research is sparse, yet crucial if we are to deliver more successful trials for older people

Underpinning and informing these activities are other clinical research components, including:

- Epidemiology of disease in ageing (including frailty and multimorbidity)

- Use of routinely collected clinical data, in health and social care, for research purposes

- Global health and Ageing - including collaborations with colleagues in South Africa, Sierra Leone and Burkina Faso

- Systematic reviews and meta-analyses, including individual participant data meta-analysis